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Courtauld Gallery

  • Art
  • Aldwych
  • Recommended

Time Out says

Located just off the Strand in the north wing of Somerset House, the Courtauld has one of Britain's greatest collections of paintings, and contains several works of world importance. Although there are some outstanding works from earlier periods, the collection's strongest suit is its holdings of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings. There are some popular masterpieces: Manet's astonishing 'A Bar at the Folies-Bergère' is undoubtedly the star, alongside superb Monets and Cézannes, important Gauguins and some excellent Van Goghs and Seurats. On the top floor, you get to the twentieth century with a selection of gorgeous fauvist works, a lovely room of Kandinskys and plenty more besides. Hidden away downstairs in the Courtauld there's a sweet little gallery café with a courtyard.

Courtauld Gallery is closed from September 2018 until autumn 2020 for major redevelopment work.


Somerset House
The Strand
Tube: Temple
£7; £6 concs; Free to Friends of The Courtauld, under-18s, full-time UK students, unwaged, and with National Art Pass; temporary exhibitions £8.50
Opening hours:
Daily 10am-6pm (last adm 5.30pm).
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Edvard Munch: 'Masterpieces from Bergen' review

  • 3 out of 5 stars

Anguish, pain and melancholy are flooding through the rooms of the Courtauld. It’s what you’d expect from a show of work by the man who painted ‘The Scream’ – probably the most famous image of angst in history – but it still packs an emotional punch.  Edvard Munch is Norway’s great modern artist, a radical figure who dedicated his life to painting emotion just like the impressionists painted light. This collection of early works starts off sedately enough with impressionism-indebted experiments in dappled sunshine: an Oslo street scene from 1890 is all tiny brushstrokes and shimmering sun-soaked pavements, an 1888 painting of his sister in the light is almost too bright to look at.  These don't feel like the Munch we know, but don’t worry, that comes quick. By 1892, light is swapped for shadow, daytime for midnight. A beach scene is grey and swirling, a house is bathed in black, human figures are reduced to nothing but their own shadows. And then suddenly it’s all there, all the Munch tropes: the long, thick swooping outlines, the sunken cheeks, the pallid skin. That Oslo street scene from earlier is now full of ghosts, the figures have become corpse-like and haunted. Even Munch’s nudes are choked with agony, the misery of failed romances and aimless desires. There are some beautiful works here, but it’s a bit of a stretch to call them masterpieces, and by the time you get to his painting of a funeral, with its open casket and deathly mourners, you sort of get the message. Ev

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